By Shell on May 17, 2022
Getting there: 250 kilometres (3 hours) south of Perth
Eagle Bay is a bit like WA’s answer to Saint Tropez, with luxury estates perched on a sparkling beachfront (you may even spot a local celeb or two). But it’s not just high-flyers who flock to this tiny coastal town. Tucked right under the tip of Cape Naturaliste, Eagle Bay is that rare destination that is secluded yet close to everything; within an hour of all the best attractions in the South West.
Despite looking postcard-perfect, the shores of Eagle Bay Beach are often blissfully empty, thanks to the town's small number of inhabitants (population: 76, according to the latest census). Sprawl out on icing sugar-fine sand and take a leisurely dip in clear calm shallows, enjoying the serenity.
Further down Eagle Bay-Meelup Road is Point Picquet, where turquoise waves crash against sunburnt slabs of red granite. If you visit in winter, you might miss it altogether – the high tide of the colder months submerges the shore – but the lookout point is still a great vantage point to see migrating humpback whales. Just 1.3 nautical miles from here is the fantastic HMAS Swan Dive Wreck and artificial reef, best accessed from the Old Dunsborough Boat Ramp. You'll spot a kaleidoscope of fish as you explore the nooks of the sunken ship.
Follow the crowds to Meelup Beach and you might discover that it’s worth sharing towel space for access to the impossibly blue waters, great for snorkelling or stand-up paddleboarding. Fuel up after at Meelup Farmhouse for rustic-modern fare under the gumtrees, with wandering alpacas and a Highland cow. Eagle Bay Brewing Co is another must for wood-fired pizza, craft beer on tap, and views right to the ocean.
It might be hard to peel yourself away from Eagle Bay, but there's plenty more to discover further afield. Hit the tarmac and head to Margaret River, a destination as popular with surfers as it is gourmands. Home to the famed Margaret River Pro, Surfers Point Beach in Prevelly roars with wild breaks for experienced surfers. If you're more of a dabbler, head to Redgate Beach for calmer waves and an on-site surf school, complete with boards and wetsuits for hire.
To sample some of its famous drops – Margaret River is known for producing over 15 per cent of Australia's premium wine – hand over the wheel to a wine tour guide. There are several tours in the region, often with meet-the-maker demonstrations and insider intel. You can even do a helicopter tour, soaring above forests and beaches in between private wine tastings and a degustation lunch.
Prefer chocolate to wine? You're in luck, with the Margaret River Chocolate Company offering generous samples and live demonstrations from chocolatiers. Other local small-batch chocolatiers include earthy stone-ground chocolate from Bahen & Co and silky single-origin bars from Gabriel Chocolate (Merchant & Maker in Dunsborough sells both among its excellent selection of gourmet goodies).
Further south, hike through the ancient towering trees of the Boranup Karri Forest, where the smell of eucalypt is heavy in the air. Bird-watchers should pack binoculars: you might spot a wedge-tailed eagle, splendid fairy wren or golden whistler. Thrill-seekers can also go adventure caving in wild caverns, some with perilously tight squeezes!
On your way home to Eagle Bay, make a pit stop in Yallingup for a dip in natural springs at Injidup Spa before heading to Yallingup Beach at dusk. With its famous technicolour sunset exploding into the Indian ocean, it's the perfect send-off to your down south adventure.